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Efficiency Maine Funding- A True Reverse Robinhood Story
Efficiency Maine prides itself in the rebates and loans that they make available to Mainers. Unfortunately, a shocking truth has emerged. The funding is unavailable to the vast majority of Mainers. During the first 3 years 85% of the loans and rebates went to the households in the top 15% income bracket.
The new rebate schemes are still just for the upper income levels. People have to spend a great deal more than the rebate amount to qualify for the funding. A $500 heat pump rebate is for systems that cost at least $2500. A $5000 wood pellet rebate requires people to spend $10,000 or more. Insulation rebates exist but the average homeowner spends over 3 times the rebate to qualify for them. There are loans as well, but most Mainers can’t afford them.
Why does this bother me? It bothers me because every time that anyone in Maine uses electricity a portion of their bill goes to the funding of Efficiency Maine. People that have no chance in qualifying for a rebate or loan are funding the wealthiest Mainers efficiency projects.
There is a simple solution to this funding inequity. Mainers should be able to get rebates if the work that they do on their own homes meets the Efficiency Maine standards for jobs completed by contractors. This should be easy because right now contractors do not have to meet any measurable standards. To get funding a homeowner only has to hire an approved contractor. No matter what the quality of the work is Efficiency Maine will fund it.
Complex heating and solar work may be beyond the scope of most but many insulation and air sealing upgrades are within the reach of homeowners. I have verified many completed weatherization jobs done by owners that rival or surpass those of contractors. Yet, there is no funding available for them.
It is time for Efficiency Maine to stop taking money from everyone to give to the few. Every Mainer deserves access to Efficiency Maine funding, not just those at the top.